Retail giant Tesco is set to make a few changes to its website this year; it has already launched an improved wine site and the grocery service is due to be relaunched this summer. 

While the site is very functional, there are areas for improvement, and one of the things the retailer is trialling is a visual browsing feature for its beauty products; Beauty Room.

Tesco Beauty Room

Presenting products like this is an excellent way to appeal to people's browsing behaviour, and works especially well for things like clothing and shoes.

For instance, Zappos recently introduced a visual tool to display its shoe range, and allow users to zoom in and out and filter products by colour, while Zoomii does the same for books and DVDs

According to Tesco's Nick Lansey, it can do more to sell some types of products online:

"Some aspects of our product range should be exciting but just aren't exciting thanks to our list-based system. Think about the emotional contexts of beauty products - brands such as L'Oreal, Pantene, Radox, Olay and others. These brands create products that involve the emotions: inspiring, relaxing, washing, bathing, rejuvenating, making us feel cleaner and look younger. Shoving them into a list like we do baked beans hardly does them justice!"

Nick tells me it is a work in progress at the moment; logging in using your Tesco ID takes nearly a minute for one thing, while there is a limited range of products available. It has been created using Microsoft's Silverlight technology, so you will need to install this if you don't already have it.

Also, while you can buy goods through the application at the moment, but you will be asked to login in again once you select the basket / checkout options.

It has some good features though; the filtering options are good at narrowing your search, and the fact that you can instantly see the number of products after applying the filters also helps:

Beauty Room filtering options

Product details are good too, and come up instantly once you click on an item, providing user ratings and cross-selling options as well as basic information on the creams and shower gels.

Tesco Beauty Room

I like the idea of browsing through sites like this, not every user comes to a website with a clear idea of what they are looking for, and this allows them to easily and quickly search and see details for a number of different products before deciding. I suspect it would work well for other product ranges too, shoes and clothing for one.

Browsing tools like this are also an excellent way of selling products in a more visually appealing way, and can help give retailer the edge over rivals by providing a more exciting user experience.

Graham Charlton

Published 20 May, 2009 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (1)


Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum Ltd

Working with Tesco on the new Winestore rollout was interesting - surprising how some business-need choices on the interface have an effect on running mystery-shopper 24/7 monitoring of user experience.

And the use of Silverlight on the new BeautyRoom is interesting - there's a battle in this space, ITV Player (ITV is a TV channel) here in the UK has been criticised and it sits on Silverlight: whereas the BBC iPlayer goes from strength to strength, since it dropped it's Microsoft technology (though not Silverlight) and went Adobe Flash.

It's the new 'browser war' :<).

There's Silverlight, Adobe Air.

There's Mono: the open-source version of Silverlight, being championed by Novell.

And Mozilla have announced just this week the beta release of their open-source Prism, which looks interesting.  (try google news for 'mozilla prism').

Many folk are saying that this next stage of web development is crucial, and thus an open-source platform would advantageous -to stop lock-in to a proprietary platform... which is what happened in the browser space after Microsoft controlled the market, and said that IE6 was going to be the last version ever...until Mozilla Firefox came along and upped the ante.

Certainly, those of us in the web performance and 24/7 user experience testing space have benefited greatly from Firefox (well, in fact most web developers would say the same) - and it'll be a nightmare in the future for KPI web monitoring if everybody is on a proprietary platform.

about 9 years ago

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